Today’s Our Land post was written by my fabulous friend Jill, of Ripped Jeans and Bifocals. Jill is hilarious and amazing. We’ve bonded over being slightly *ah hem* older moms who parent superhero kids and even though she claims to hate Uggs (who hates Uggs???), I still like her. I’m positive that you will, too.
Special Needs Parenting: Am I Doing This Right?
I’m not an indecisive mom. I’ve questioned my parenting methods after the fact but I rarely doubt myself in the moment.
My four-year-old son Kyle has a plethora of medical issues. I love using words like plethora because they make me sound smart. He’s only been with us about eighteen months. We adopted him just after he turned three. In addition to congenital stuff we’re coping with nutritional challenges that carried over from his early years with not enough to eat. His 2T pants fall off his itty-bitty booty like a gangsta that wears McQueen underpants.
So, we go to the doctor a lot. We have generalists and specialists. Labs, follow-ups and catch-up immunizations. Rare is the week we don’t have some kind of medical crap going on. I should have my own parking space at the hospital. I’ll work on that.
You might think that since Kyle sees so many medical professionals that all these visits are no big whoop. Wrong. We can’t drive past the hospital without him announcing “there’s my owie doctor.”
Pulling in the hospital parking lot triggers screaming. Not just crying: straight up glass shattering screams. Is it live or is it Memorex? Nope. It’s my kid and everyone hears him coming. People in the halls part like the Red Sea. I get equal parts sympathetic glances and dirty “you’re doing something wrong” looks.
The screams continue until we’re done with whatever torture is on the agenda. As soon someone hands Kyle the sticker or lollypop that indicates the end of the visit, he’s fine. Ready to get the hell out of Dodge, but fine.
I’ve tried distracting him with toys and snacks. I’ve tried singing or engaging him in chitchat about whose outfit is tacky. I promise ice cream when we’re done. Nothing works. The only thing he wants to do is give everyone in the room the stink eye, produce loads of snot and loudly chant “no doctor.”
Sometimes these theatrics get us seen faster. Kyle is a walking advertisement for the danger of noise pollution. His screams disrupt normal business and scare other patients. I admire any tactic that gets me out of the waiting room faster but this is so not worth it.
My biggest dilemma is how to set the stage for doctor visits in the first place. He’s four. He won’t understand “okay kid, we’re getting some labs drawn Wednesday, so be thinking about that. Want a popsicle?” He understands “we’re going to the doctor today” and in his eyes that’s a very bad thing.
I say “we’re going to the doctor today” and I deal with screams until after the appointment. I can tell him 30-minutes prior or two hours prior. My choice on how long I want to hear him scream. There’s no soothing him so I don’t usually tell him we’re going to the doctor until we’re practically there, which makes me feel like an asshole, because that’s deceitful.
We recently had to take Kyle for vision screening at the local school as part of his eval for early intervention services. You’d think with all our medical cray-cray-crazy an eye test might’ve been on the menu somewhere, but no. It doesn’t matter that this kid can spot his dad’s car a quarter mile away and can clearly spot the cookies hidden behind the junk on top of my fridge. School controls all the things and they said we had to have an eye test, so there you go.
Since it was an eye test by the school nurse and not a doctor appointment, I talked it up. “We’re going to BIG SCHOOL tomorrow! Won’t that be fun?” Of course, this set off a shitstorm when my other kid found out he wasn’t going to big school but that’s another story.
While I was preparing the 378 pieces of paperwork that you need to you’re your vision tested I discovered Kyle was overdue for a shot. Sucky timing, because if you’re a mom, you know shots are the gateway to school admittance. There was no avoiding a side trip to the immunizations clinic. There’s some kind of faculty Saint Peter waiting in the registrar’s office who will frisk you for shot records before you have one foot in the door, right?
I’d planned to spring the bad news about the shot as we pulled in to the clinic parking lot but Kyle started getting suspicious before we left the house. Maybe he heard me talking to the Hubs about the day’s agenda, but I was careful not to say “doctor” or “shot.” Maybe he’s telepathic. Maybe I’m just unlucky.
Kyle asked if we were going to the doctor 20 minutes before we left. I told him we were going to the doctor for a minute and then onto big school and fun. The meltdown began.
I struggle with this every time. Do I tell him we’re not going to the doctor only to prove myself a big fat liar when we get there? Do I assure him it won’t hurt when I know he’ll be held down and jabbed with needles? This child trusts me and that trust was hard earned. While lying would have made the car ride more peaceful, I found I couldn’t outright lie to him this time.
If there’s a good way to prepare Kyle for a doctor visit, I haven’t figured it out. I think he knows he’s safe with me but how secure can a kid feel when his mom hands him over to someone who pokes and prods him on an almost weekly basis? His outraged little face and his pleading with me to make it stop when a lab tech digs to find a tiny vein shatters my heart.
My head knows I’m doing what is best, but my heart says “you asshole.” When you’re a tiny child, shots, blood tests and sometimes even the blood pressure cuff seem like really bad stuff. Strangers get in his grill and give him owies and I’m telling him it’s OK. I know I’m doing right by my kid in getting him the medical help he needs but I don’t think I’ve mastered selling all this to him. I don’t think I’m even close.
Maybe there’s no easy answer. While I feel inept, maybe I should cut myself some slack.
Kyle and I made it through a difficult day. We always do. His resilience and zest for life amazes me daily. Driving home, he told me I was his best friend. I don’t often get to spend time alone with any of my kids, and despite the crappy start to our morning, it ended kind of nice.
“Am I doing this right?” No clue. I’m winging it, people.
See? I told you that Jill is awesome and hilarious! Here’s a bit more about her:
Jill writes about adoption, motherhood and midlife on her blog, Ripped Jeans and Bifocals. She has a degree in social psychology that she uses to try and make sense out of the behavior of her husband and three children, but it hasn’t really helped so far. She enjoys dry humor and has a love/hate relationship with running. Her writing has been featured on Scary Mommy, In the Powder Room, Mamalode, and Blunt Moms. She willingly answers any questions that end with “and would you like wine with that?”
Follow Jill on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.